BJP, Left slam Mamata's Rail Budget, Congress gives thumbs up
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's budget today came in for sharp criticism from the Bharatiya Janata arty, Left parties and the Rashtriya Janata Dal while the Congress hailed the minister for not increasing passenger fares.Rail budget highlights | List of new trains | Full text of Mamata's speechbusiness Updated: Feb 24, 2010 21:17 IST
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's budget on Wednesday came in for sharp criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Left parties and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) while the Congress hailed the minister for not increasing passenger fares.
BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Gopinath Munde said Banerjee "appeared like West Bengal's railway minister".
The BJP later came out with an official statement, slamming the budget and Banerjee.
"Since the railway minister functions autonomously and not on the basis of any collective responsibility, there is no accountability in the present budget," the BJP said.
Pointing to the promises made by Banerjee in her last budget, the BJP said there was "no movement" in any of the areas that she promised.
"Her only achievement was to come out with a White Paper as a minister for UPA (United Progressive Alliance) clearly establishing that profit making and improvement claims of the railways was completely fudged and fabricated," the BJP said.
It said the railway budget lacked larger vision and there was no proposal for railway operational safety.
The party also objected to 'tatkal' service being extended to parcel and freight movement and wondered how the minister "will add 25,000 km of railway track".
The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said in a statement that the railway budget exposed a sharp deterioration of the railways and Banerjee had "sought to conceal gross failures through misleading announcements and gimmicks aimed at the forthcoming assembly elections in West Bengal".
The party said over 120 railway accidents had taken place during the current financial year but the allocations for the Railway Safety Fund had been cut and over 1.7 lakh posts were lying vacant.
The party said there was a squeeze in public investment in the railways and privatisation was being promoted. "It appears as if the entire decision-making in the railway ministry has been handed over to the corporate sector," it said.
RJD leader Lalu Prasad slammed the railway budget, saying "it had nothing new".
"The railways are going in reverse. There is nothing new in (railway) budget. It is a survey budget," Lalu Prasad, whose party supports the United Progressive Alliance government from outside, told reporters.
Lalu Prasad, who is Banerjee's predecessor, also took a dig at her for last year's White Paper on the performance of the railways during his term.
"She had raised fingers over the accounting system. I want to ask her in all humility if she has changed the accounting system or followed the same," he said.
Banerjee's budget was also criticised by the Communist Party of India (CPI).
"It is not a national budget. It is a political budget, which focuses on West Bengal elections," said CPI leader Gurdas Das Gupta.
However, the Congress came out in full support of the minister.
"We welcome the budget. In the last seven years there has been no hike in passenger fares. This is an achievement of the UPA (United Progressive Alliance) governments I and II. We thank the government," Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.